Ford is promising to restyle Land Rover models to appeal to the US market and develop new products with BMW, following the off-road vehicle manufacturer’s transfer to Ford’s Premier Automotive Group.
Former BMW executive Wolfgang Reitzle, now chairman of PAG, indicated that Ford would invest heavily in developing new products despite Land Rover being a loss-making company.
The basic Defender model is expected to be re-styled for the US market. Describing the current version as a car for `elephant hunters’, Reitzle said he wanted the new model to compete with vehicles such as Toyota’s RAV4.
Ian Robertson, automotive analyst at the Economist Intelligence Unit, said: `This has got to be a very positive move and will enhance the global reach of Land Rover Products.’
BMW will continue to work with Land Rover on the development of a successor to the Range Rover, a luxury vehicle expected to be priced at around £100,000.
Ford plans to increase Land Rover production by 40% to 250,000 vehicles annually by 2004. However, Reitzle warned that the UK-manufactured content of the cars may be reduced over the next few years due to the strength of the pound.
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